FanGraphs Baseball


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  1. ha! you forgot to include the phillies here at the bottom. or do you think Paps, Chad Turdbin, Adams and Bastardo are better than Soriano/Clippard/Storen/Stamen?

    Comment by martin short — March 26, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

  2. I know bullpens are volatile but I don’t see how you take the greatest WPA bullpen in history, remove Gregg and end up with #19 out of 30.

    Comment by Jeff — March 26, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

  3. Like he said, there’s hardly any difference between 12 and 22 and I’m sure the Phillies are 12-15. And he also explains how the Nationals ranking is low because is mostly due to their lack of depth which matters less with their rotation

    Comment by Daniel — March 26, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

  4. I feel like there will be tons of nitpicking here, so I’ll be the first: no Scott Atchison for NY? He seems like a lock to make the team and he’d at least boost them up a handful of spots.

    Comment by NM — March 26, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

  5. 2013 Cool Name Power Rankings: Relief Pitchers (Bracket 1)
    18. Bradley George Boxberger
    17. John Nicholas Maronde
    16. Craig N. “Plant Sex” Stammen
    15. Ronald J. Belisario
    14. Caleb J. Thielbar
    13. Rhiner Allen Cruz Montero
    12. Huston Lowell Street
    11. Randal Doyle Choate
    10. Vincent William “Vinnie” Pestano
    9. Hector Ambriz
    8. Kyuji Fujikawa
    7. Ernesto Frieri Gutierrez
    6. Jeurys Familia
    5. Pedro Angel Strop
    4. Charles Roderick Furbush
    3. Burke Heinrich Badenhop
    2. Kenley Geronimo Jansen
    1. Hisanori Takahashi

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — March 26, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

  6. Frank Herrmann had TJ surgery and is out for the year. He probably wouldn’t have made Cleveland’s bullpen anyways, so having him as the #3 reliever at 55 IP is a bit strange.

    Comment by Travis — March 26, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

  7. Then you don’t understand how volatile WPA is year to year or regression.

    Comment by Caveman Jones — March 26, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

  8. What is the year-to-year correlation of WPA? Has anyone done that?

    Comment by Fabian — March 26, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

  9. And while we’re correcting FanGraph errors, Joe Smith is not a lefty (as the blurb states). Rich Hill was handed an opening day slot last week, however. Not sure if he’s included in the “others” or if it matters.

    Comment by Candy LaChance — March 26, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

  10. Joe Smith is a righty, thus making him even more boring.

    Comment by dutch — March 26, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

  11. I’m waiting for the day when we can more accurately capture reliever WAR. It seems ridiculous to me that the difference between the 16th best reliever group in baseball and the 29th best is only about a win and a half.

    Comment by Greg — March 26, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

  12. “One has to imagine the Dodgers would not have invested so heavily in Brandon League if not for the concerns surrounding Jansen.”

    THey also probably wouldn’t have invested in Brandon League had Ned Coletti not discovered El Dorado last year.

    Comment by Jaack — March 26, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

  13. I’m amazed at how the word “bullpen” escaped me and that I wrote “reliever group” in its place.

    Comment by Greg — March 26, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

  14. Hahaha #19.

    Best bullpen in history –> below average. That’s regression, man!

    Comment by O's Fan — March 26, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

  15. Or maybe there’s not that much difference between a bad bullpen and an average bullpen? Makes sense to me.

    Comment by bill — March 26, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

  16. Looks like the Tigers will be the top team.

    Comment by Daniel — March 26, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

  17. “Ronald Belisario was sharp in 2012 but horrible in 2011.”
    If by “horrible” you mean “trapped in Venezuela on Visa issues,” then yes. Dude didn’t play in 2011.

    Comment by Ben — March 26, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

  18. Wait… it does? They were 12th in reliever WAR last season, and I can’t think of any relievers they signed over the offseason. (Not saying that they didn’t sign anyone, but it can’t have been anyone real good.)

    Comment by Anon21 — March 26, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

  19. He means in overall WAR. They were at the top through the SP and all of the teams close to them have already popped on this list.

    Comment by Chad — March 26, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

  20. Can you translate the first paragraph of your Brewers section for me? It seems like some words were left out and some numbers came out of nowhere.

    Also, how can you project Madson for the “full” 65 IP if he’s likely to miss a month?

    Comment by Jay29 — March 26, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

  21. The Brewers 2011 season stands as a testament to the fact that bullpens do, in fact, matter greatly.

    Comment by Bob — March 26, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

  22. And 2012, for that matter.

    Comment by Bob — March 26, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

  23. Melancon did rebound in the second half but it should be noted he pitched almost exclusively in mop up duty and very low leverage situations. I like the trade with Boston a lot for them, but Melancon’s profile plays better outside of the AL East.

    Comment by Chief Keef — March 26, 2013 @ 3:43 pm

  24. because there isn’t any predictive utility to WPA?

    Comment by jim — March 26, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

  25. why do you assume that capturing it more accurately would lead to more difference and not less?

    Comment by jim — March 26, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

  26. Here is what is wrong with these types of articles. The rankings are always wrong and when the phils are discovered to have the worst bullpen, everyone will say “wow! how did that happen?!” All I ask is to stop looking at FIP and SIERRA MADRE and use your eyes.

    Comment by martin short — March 26, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

  27. If you write that the numbers are “ineffable”, the next sentence should not be an effable recitation of those numbers.

    And while we’re on the topic, The Houston Astros pen is effin’ sad.

    Comment by King of the Byelorussian Crunkers — March 26, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

  28. I think there is a big difference. WAR doesn’t seem to capture that particularly well.

    Comment by BJsWorld — March 26, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

  29. With the worst rotation and worst bullpen, it looks like it will be a long summer in Houston. Fortunately for Astros fans, their lineup is so bad that most games should be over before 4 hours or so. Football uses time of possession, I wonder what the Plate Appearance differential will be between Houston and their opponents.

    Comment by Ryan — March 26, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

  30. yea, their bullpen sucks.

    Comment by Dave in GB — March 26, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

  31. Have these projections been compared to end of season totals for any bullpens in the past? I’d never considered projecting bullpen innings until I saw this post, but it seems like something that has more to do with the projected innings from your starting rotation than a flat rate such as ~65 IP. I feel like there must be a more reliable method of predicting RP’s IP, and that these numbers are throwing off the expected value of a lot of these relievers.

    Comment by Jonno — March 26, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

  32. So BJsWorld, agreed. WAR seems to me like a particularly _poor_ stat for evaluating relievers _in aggregate_. Rate stats tell you a good deal about cumulations of large samples, and WAR is best there. Looking at small numbers of high-leverage pitcher/batter match ups, those rate stat translations don’t really capture what it is that relievers do that matters. You can strike out five of six, give up no walks or HR but lose a game on a five-hopper up the middle. Also, the rankings don’t seem to particularly weight the effectiveness of bullpens in samehandedness match ups. A bullpen is designed to get LH on LH and RH on RH match ups, not to just cumulate rate stats. Yeah, Ks are highly desirable in bullpen arms, but a guy with very good GB stats same hand side, for example, and not a lot else can still be a very valuable bullpen arm even while WAR says he would be a disaster exposed to larger numbers of pitchers hitting from both sides of the plate. The evaluation system here doesn’t seem to capture these aspects well, but they are of great significance (seemingly anyway) in how a bullpen performs over a season.

    I don’t want to make too much of this, and I don’t have an alternative statistical approach to suggest offhand. And I’m not wanting to carp at your work here, Jack; someone had to make an effort to comparatively evaluate bullpens. That said, not only do the rankings as structured not make strong distinctions in projecting different bullpen cadres, I find myself really disagreeing with more than a few of the ranking slots as presented. Yeah, relievers are volatile, so that _no_ ranking system is going to yield especially robust results. But when the re results don’t even seen particularly defensible the approach needs some tweaking. Yeah, we know that Craig Kimbrel is better than Joel Hanrahan. Did I learn anything new/different than that from these rankings? Something for future consideration . . . .

    Comment by Balthazar — March 26, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

  33. Not having Atchison or Hawkins listed for the Mets seems to be an oversight. Both will be in the pen to start the season. Hawkins isn’t much, but he’s league average and Atchison can be good if healthy.

    Comment by Dave G. — March 26, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

  34. Theoretically, really good bullpen WPA indicates a really good bullpen coach and manager, right?

    Comment by DCN — March 26, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

  35. I wonder how much is in how much the bullpen has to be used versus the talent in the bullpen. Would be an interesting study.

    Comment by DCN — March 26, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

  36. Not to mention that the Mets have already slated Feliciano to begin the year in the minors and he is still mulling over whether to accept that assignment.

    Comment by Ham — March 26, 2013 @ 9:01 pm

  37. Scratch that last part, he accepted his assignment and will be in LV.

    Comment by Ham — March 26, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

  38. Curious . . . how many people would take the Mariners over every other pen on this list? I probably would, but I might be biased. However, I also think the rest of the team, sans Felix, is dog crap (with upside!), so maybe I’m not that biased.

    Comment by Choo — March 26, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

  39. Joe Smith wins because his name is remarkably normal.

    Comment by Antonio bananas — March 27, 2013 @ 12:02 am

  40. I second this. Also, how a good pen can effect a rotation.

    Comment by Antonio bananas — March 27, 2013 @ 12:06 am

  41. I’m curious why you think the Nationals have no depth? They’ve got a boat load. If you’d have bothered looking into it, you’d have found they have:

    Former major leaguers:
    JC Romero
    Bill Bray
    Cole Kimball
    Fernando Abad
    Jeremy Accardo

    Quality (if unexceptional) minor leaguers:
    Erik Davis
    Jeff Mandel
    Brandon Mann

    That’s a shit-ton of depth, just in AAA. There’s a couple guys in AA that could also make the jump. Almost every single one of those guys is better than your generic “Others” category, yet, barring catastrophic injuries, only the best one or two of them will actually be needed.

    Comment by Will — March 27, 2013 @ 7:20 am

  42. “The rankings are always wrong and when the phils are discovered to have the worst bullpen”

    And when the Phils are discovered to not, in fact, have the worst bullpen, I’m sure you’ll come back with a humble admission that you were wrong, no?

    Also I’m not sure you know what the word “worst” means. How you could reasonably expect a Phils pen featuring Papelbon, Adams, and Bastardo to be worse than, say, the Astros or Brewers, then I think it has to be a simple misunderstanding of the term.

    Comment by Jason B — March 27, 2013 @ 11:19 am

  43. At least you’re not biased or anything.

    Comment by With a name like O's Fan... — March 27, 2013 @ 11:21 am

  44. They’re instituting the mercy rule for this specific reason! A lot of their games will be 13-2 (final, six innings).

    Comment by Jason B — March 27, 2013 @ 11:23 am

  45. Wow, I just have to say that I don’t agree with this at all. The Mariners aren’t a very good team but they have a much better bullpen than this rankings show.

    Comment by Average_Casey — March 27, 2013 @ 11:35 am

  46. Yes, this. This series has been invaluable, but for the love of heaven stop saying “ineffable.”

    Comment by Matt — March 27, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

  47. WPA–Worthless Piece of Analysis

    Comment by Baltar — March 27, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

  48. The answer to your profound questions is “very little playing time.”

    Comment by Baltar — March 27, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

  49. That doesn’t amaze me.

    Comment by Baltar — March 27, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

  50. Relief pitchers, especially “closers,” seem to be more important than they are because they are pitching at or near the end of the game.

    Comment by Baltar — March 27, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

  51. I think the lack of depth refers to the #4-7 guys in the bullpen, not the AAA depth. That said, I think the projections seriously underestimate Craig Stammen and Ryan Mattheus. That’s OK; as a Nats fan I feel pretty good about the bullpen from #1-6 (if Henry Rodriguez is the #7 guy, not so much). But if your only worry is about the #7 guy, that’s not much of a worry.

    Comment by John C. — March 27, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

  52. I suspect that not taking account of park factors is influencing your opinion.

    Comment by Baltar — March 27, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

  53. Not that I claim that you’re full of bias, but Brian Matusz’s projections are based on him being a starter for all but 13 innings of his time. If he were a reliever full-time, his ERA would go down by a lot.

    Also, I question your assertion that he was merely “palatable” as a reliever. He pitched about 1/4 season as a reliever and was pretty shut-down. 19/3 K/BB, 40% K%, and favorable ground-ball tendencies. While there’s no reason to believe that his numbers will remain at that level, you have to think that he’ll see significant improvement given that he’ll be game-planned to face lefties more frequently than he would as a starter, and he has had fantastic L/R splits throughout his career.

    Comment by Dennis — March 27, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

  54. Plant-Sex Stammen

    Comment by samuelraphael — March 27, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

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